Monday, February 27, 2017

Face-Lift 1343

Guess the Plot

In the Shadow of Lies

1. When your mother's a politician and your father's the White House press secretary, there's no way around it. You just grow up . . . in the shadow of lies.

2. An earnest young West Wing intern fights to uncover the nefarious connections between a new US President and the President of Russia.

3. Lady Gaga's exotic mascara closet is raided by a jealous vampire. Craving a life in the spotlight, he makes with the slap, discovers ultimate hubris in the mirror — and DIES. Includes footnotes.

4. Marla is captured by enemy forces on her home planet and sentenced to the worst possible punishment: she's forced into a mind prison that gives the illusion she's living on Earth.

5. In his latest caper, ace detective Zack Martinez pursues a weird-looking rabbit from the Sunshine of Truth, through the Labyrinth of Deceit, around the Carousel of Confusion, under the Domicile of Despair, and into... the Shadow of Lies.

6. The woman Olga always knew as her mother was actually born male. Her Dad is her actual father, but is really an alien accidentally stranded on Earth. Or was he exiled here? For what crime? Her real mother, whom she never knew, is alive in a psychiatric ward, unable to bear the weight of her own dark secret - that she's Donald Trump's love child. So many secrets, so many lies. How can Olga get the attention of that cute guy in her Geography class?

7. Alicia is an exotic pole dancer and also a vampire. Dillon is a gay Las Vegas homicide detective. He suspects Alicia of involvement in a string of bizarre murders. As he tracks her movements, he finds himself falling in love with her. He seeks out Alphonse, a police therapist, to help him deal with his new lust. But the psychiatrist is also secretly in love with Alicia without knowing she is a vampire. Hilarity ensues.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Marla’s life on Earth is a lie. She was sent on a mission for Somret, hidden city and sanctuary on [her] home planet Ilah. Captured by a power-hungry government and forced into a mind prison, she lives a faux life on Earth while her body suffers experimentation on Ilah. Rescued after a year, she returns to Somret. Accusations trail her: Spy. Traitor. Murderer. All because she is the sole survivor of that damning mission. [Are these accusations coming from her own people? If they consider her a spy, traitor, murderer, why was she rescued? I mean, if Jeffrey Dahmer took a trip to Russia and got imprisoned there, I don't think we'd send in SEAL team 6 to rescue him.] [Also, if she were a spy, she'd have been in Somret the past year, spying.] [Who got murdered?] 

Marla doesn’t know where she belongs. Earth is fresh in her mind, [but centuries away at the speed of light,] whereas her memories of Ilah’s metal forests and lightning-fueled cities are gone. Worse, she discovers the mind prison woke in her the power to cross to other worlds and enter people’s minds. [As an observer, or a controller? Our justice system would crumble if "someone from another planet entered my mind and made me do it" became a  valid defense.] Viewed with fear and subjected to manipulation, she is a weapon. [We need you to enter the mind of Earth's most powerful leader and make him destroy the planet before we invade.]

A botched supply run and a dying messenger lead Marla to the truth of that fateful mission a year ago. She no longer knows who the enemy is: the government that imprisoned her, the city she calls home, or herself. [Given those choices, I predict she'll go with the government that imprisoned her.] Somret is her only sanctuary, but staying means risking her freedom, her friends, and her life. [Calling this place a sanctuary is like calling Fox News news.]

IN THE SHADOW OF LIES is YA science fiction with elements of fantasy. Complete at 117,000 words, it has series potential and will appeal to fans of Rick Yancey’s THE 5TH WAVE and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Marla's age should be up front so we don't read the whole thing thinking she's an elite special forces commando only to discover she's a high school sophomore. 

Why was this kid sent on an important mission, what was the mission, and what is the truth of that fateful mission?

Is there a good reason this mind prison is creating the illusion Marla's on Earth, as opposed to any other planet in the universe? How do they even know what life on Earth is like? 

Who wants to use Marla as a weapon, and why?

It's all pretty vague. What was she sent to do, and what do her captors want from her? Who rescues her, and what do they want from her? What will happen if she gives them what they want? What will happen if she doesn't?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Face-Lift 1342

Guess the Plot


1. It's those guys who tell you how to get where you're going, only these ones don't, so you don't and there's a lot of finger pointing and a crossroads in plaid.

2. The newly appointed Secretary of Defense reveals the president's plans to have trained alligators fight side-by-side with Navy SEAL teams.

3. Jay spends all his free time on the cliffs of Dover, watching the sailing ships. One day his unknown Portuguese uncle lets Jay join his crew and sail the seas. Also, a tavern wench.

4. Bob's father vanished at sea before he was born. His sister ran away with a sailor. His mother walked out into the ocean one day and didn't come back. Bob reflects on the role of water in his life from a Peace Corps station in the Sahara.

5. Four teenagers embark on a perilous journey to free themselves and lead others to freedom from a dystopian hellhole.

6. A pair of bank tellers are mysteriously deposited in the middle of a Peruvian rain forest with nothing more to guide them than a celestial map and a dead iPhone. Can they find their way back to L.A. before their embezzlement scheme is discovered?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Ever since the death of his sister, Fifteen-year-old Jay Stevens spends all his free time high upon the cliffs of Dover, watching the sailing ships below. All he really wants is to go to the ever-moving sea, far away from the grief that ever lingers at home.

When his father introduces him to an unknown Portuguese uncle, Jay does not hesitate and becomes a sailor on Tome Vaz’s ship. 

As of then Jay roams the coasts of the known world. Whenever he returns to Lisboa, he shares his adventures with his cousin, Tristão Vaz. But even Tristão does not know what is going on in Jay’s mind. [What is going on in Jay's mind?] That he only discusses with a tavern wench who waits for him in Venice. [She waits for him? What does that mean? He's fifteen.] He does not owe her anything aside from the money he pays her and that makes it so much easier to talk to her. Soon he wonders if she is not becoming more to him than just a lady of the night. [How often is he in Venice?] But no tavern girl truly loves the sailor that pays her and he has not forgotten how much it hurts to lose someone you love. He never wants to feel that pain again, so he keeps her at a distance and returns to the sea. [He's a member of the crew. Of course he returns to the sea. Was he considering the option of settling down in Venice?] The ocean might not hold all the answers though, and when an expedition goes wrong, he finds himself wondering if he does not need anyone after all.

NAVIGATORS, is a historical novel set in the fifteenth century. It is complete at 98,000 words and available for your review.


You've convinced me you have a character, but not that you have a novel. You need to tell us something that happens. Something more specific than an expedition goes wrong.

After the death of his beloved sister, fifteen-year-old Jay Stevens joins the crew of his uncle's  ship, hoping to escape his grief. During frequent stopovers in Venice, Jay falls for a tavern wench, but keeps her at a distance, afraid of again feeling the pain of losing one he loves.

That's about all I got out of your plot summary, up until an expedition goes wrong. What exactly happens, and how does it change Jay's outlook? For instance, he almost dies, realizes life is short, and decides that the next time he's in Venice he'll marry his tavern wench and become a gondolier. Or female pirates sink the uncle's ship and take Jay prisoner as their sex slave and teach him techniques that will help him win his wench, but when they dock in Venice he discovers his wench has gone to sea searching for him. 

Gondolier is one of those occupations I never considered until right now, when I'm probably too old for it.

Usually when your father introduces you to your unknown uncle, he's your father's brother. But since they have different last names, I guess Tome Vaz is Jay's mother's brother? Not telling your child that you have a brother is okay if the guy's the black sheep of the family, but in that case I'm not sure I'd want my child going off to sea with him.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Feedback Request

Originally posted as The King And The Mount (Face-Lift 1315)

Alister didn't start his day thinking he'd leave his home forever, with only his hiking pack and a cloud of shame. He certainly didn't think he'd accidentally cause a neighbour's house to crash down Mount Era's slopes, a young girl trapped inside. He doesn't know where he's going, or when he'll stop walking—maybe when the guilt doesn't threaten to bring him to his knees. [Not sure what I expected the third sentence to say after those first two, maybe what Alister did start the day thinking, until x happened, which snowballed into these other events. I'd like him more if he were trying to save the girl than taking a hike. Maybe: 
Alister didn't start his day thinking he'd leave his home forever, with only his hiking pack and a cloud of shame. But after he'd accidentally caused a neighbour's house to crash down Mount Era's slopes, a young girl trapped inside, he figured he was about to be persona non grata in the neighborhood anyway.] 

Then Lark's message arrives. [Before he leaves? I got the impression he'd already started walking.] The travelling merchant was [had been] Alister's only link to the other cities of the Union, until he didn't arrive in Alister's town [mysteriously disappeared] that autumn. Lark's message tells Alister [explains that] his disappearance was no accident. He was taken captive by Baudouin, an unnervingly charismatic king of the western side of Mount Era.  Lark discovered the king's plot to unearth [dig up?] the unstable Stone of Dominus and use its power to gain control of the entire mountain. 
[I may have mentioned this last time, but one side of one mountain isn't much of a kingdom. I guess that's why Baudouin is trying to get the other side.] The rest of the Union is oblivious to Baudouin's plans, fooled by the aid he's given them over the years. [If they need aid, and Baudouin can provide it, maybe they're better off letting him run the whole mountain. What's the downside? Having to put up with his unnerving charisma?]

Alister embarks on a journey across the Union to free Lark, so they can stop Baudouin from risking Mount Era's destruction in his lust for power. [If the mountain is destroyed, what will Baudouin have power over?] Throughout his travels, Alister makes new friends and enemies, learns more about the Union's cities than Lark ever told him, uncovers the merchant's past, and learns to face his own. Although he knows Baudouin must be stopped, Alister wrestles with how far he should go to save the Union.

In the back of his mind is a nagging question—What made Lark send to him for help? [This makes me wonder if Al suspects Lark of trying to lure him into the king's clutches. But that can't be, Alister was described in the previous version as a boy. He's nothing to the king. And Lark is a captive. They don't seem like much of a threat to the king.]

The Missing Traveller is a fantasy complete at 110 300 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Does Lark's message state that he's still Baudouin's captive? Usually when you've been imprisoned because you've discovered the king's secret plans, they don't let you send messages, so Alister could easily assume Lark has escaped.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Evil Editor's Kickstarter Project

Toni Morrison said "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

What she failed to add was that if you're the only person who wants to read it, you're gonna have trouble finding a publisher.

I've written a dozen books that I wanted to read, compiling material from this blog. I never know whether such a book will sell 300 copies or 30 or 3. I don't really care how many, as long as I have my own copy, but ordering 300 and selling 3 is wasted money, and so is ordering 3 at a time if I'm going to sell 300, as the price per copy drops the more you order at once.

My project is a collection of politically inspired comic strips featuring Donald Trump and his co-conspirators, tentatively titled Donald Trump Strips. I've started a Kickstarter campaign to help me gauge the number of copies to order. Most of the rewards you can get for backing the project include a digital version of the book plus one or more other Evil Editor books. If you want the actual printed book, I'm charging $45, and the amount raised (assuming I reach my goal), will determine whether it's hardcover or paperback.

I'll still be creating the book if the Kickstarter campaign doesn't reach its goal, but since this book will appeal to a wider audience than just fans of Evil Editor, a Kickstarter project should reach more of them than just mentioning it on the blog.

Anyway, you can view the campaign here 

As an added bonus, anyone who backs the project in the first 24 hours will receive a free digital version of Evil Editor's History of the World in Tweets.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Synopsis 57

Seventeen-year-old ANDREA SMITH is smart and sophisticated. She has a wonderful and supportive family. She has a boyfriend named TONY. She hangs out with the most popular, coolest, and the wealthier crowd at Riverdale Heights High School. Some of her closest friends decide to play a prank on the school's biggest nerd CODY by getting one of the female friends to pretend to be his girlfriend. But it isn't a secret for too long because the whole school learns about it. [You never said it was a secret to begin with.] [The whole school including Cody?]

Including Cody's sister SHANNON who became a new friend of Andrea's before the prank and Shannon's boyfriend FREDDIE. [That sentence should be in the same paragraph as the previous sentence.] Cody accidentally gets into a fight with the girl after she publicly breaks up with him at a rambunctious party one night. [You said the whole school knew about the prank including Cody's sister Shannon, so I assume Shannon would tell Cody, and the lovebirds would be broken up before this party.] She pushes him and he slips on the concrete, hits his head and dies. Andrea and the others panic big time by covering up the crime and lying to the police. Then the friends decide to take an oath by burying [to bury] the truth.

Andrea feels guilty but Tony and the rest of her friends could care less unless they get caught. Andrea begins to distant [distance] herself from her friends. Tony is showing less affection toward her and this causes her to look elsewhere. At a gathering one night, Andrea meets an older college guy name LEE. She becomes drawn into this new relationship with Lee after she abruptly breaks up with Tony. Tony learns about their relationship after gossip about it spreads around school. Tony starts to taunt the two and decides he wants Andrea back no matter the cost.

Andrea decides not to get back together with Tony. She discovers Lee is a mysterious individual that [who] carries many dark secrets. Andrea and her friends began [begin] receiving threats, a dead animal corpse in a mailbox, blood in a bed, followed by a shooting that sends them over the edge. Soon, they realize that someone else must have witnessed the crime [The "crime" occurred at a rambunctious party. There are probably a dozen witnesses] and was [is] planning revenge. In the news, everybody learns of a killer roaming around.

They believe that maybe this killer is connected some kind of way after an individual claiming to be the killer taunts Andrea online. Two of her friends disappear without a trace and is [are] later found dead. Andrea and her friends soon realize that this killer is stalking [them] and later starts killing them one by one. They can't turn to the police because [they took an oath.] the police don't believe them. [Four people who were involved in Cody's death have been killed, but the police don't believe there's a connection?] So they are left to fend for themselves. Andrea finds out that instead of one killer, there are two killers.

She learns that Shannon and Freddie have teamed up to avenge Cody's death and they murder the rest of her friends. Andrea escapes and calls the cops.

[Andrea: Ten of us were present when Cody died, and so far nine of us have been murdered.

Police: Probably a coincidence, but if you get murdered too, I may rethink that.] 

Shannon and Freddie catch up to her and trapped her. Shannon tells Andrea everything that she and Freddie did. Shannon turns on Freddie and shoots him in the heart, killing him instantly. [Why?] The cops arrive and see Shannon pointing the pistol toward Andrea. They yell at her to drop the pistol, but she is oblivious to them. Not wanting to suffer a life confinement in prison or get the death penalty, Shannon turns the pistol on herself.

A month passes[period], Andrea's new boyfriend Lee drives up to her house to see her after weeks of her avoiding him. He wants Andrea to rekindle their romance they once shared. Andrea reveal[s] to him that she wants him to give her space for now because she wanted [wants] time to ponder her life and commit to celibacy. He sadly acknowledges her choice and leaves. A friend calls her cell phone[period], she turns down a request to go out and have fun. Andrea begins to daydream as she watches the clouds in the sky. [You can do without this paragraph.]


Lots of errors, mostly switching tenses.

The police and the kids all seem pretty stupid. Cody slipped on the concrete. His death was an accident. Now all these kids are covering up the "crime" of pushing Cody, which was committed by only one person, and two other kids are committing numerous premeditated murders. I'm sure someone in the book is the voice of reason at some point, preferably your main character, so make that clear in the synopsis.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1316 would like feedback on the following version:

Dear Evil Editor:

Hugh, a hungry vampire [Why call him hungry? I get hungry every day, or at least I would if I didn't snack constantly, but I don't refer to myself as a hungry human.] who can't remember much of his past, or why he buried himself in a park in Beverly Hills, is found by Oliver before losing consciousness. Oliver, also a vampire, gives Hugh a place to stay and invites him on an adventure. A bottle of sacred blood is [can be?] theirs by way of a map Oliver stole over a century ago. The blood gives machines intelligence, humans immortality, and turns vampires into gods with no need for human blood. The chance to find the bottle happens once every 150 years, when the map's ink reappears for 30 days. [If the map was available 150 years ago, and 300 years ago, and 450 . . . how does anyone know the blood wasn't already found?]

But Hugh and Oliver aren't the only ones looking for the bottle. Scientists with sleeping androids designed to replace humans, freemasons desperate for immortality, and a nasty coven of vampires have maps, too. 
[With this many maps in play, it seems like a lot of people would have made copies so they could keep looking for the bottle after the ink disappeared.]  [Nowadays that map would be all over the Internet.] 

Oliver has wanted to be a god for centuries, but Hugh does not. He cares about rescuing Leila, another vampire who helps him [ease his worried mind.] remember who he is. Just as he's getting to know her again, a more powerful vampire [This world seems to be overrun with vampires.] kidnaps her hoping she'll marry him. [No one's gonna marry a vampire who kidnaps her. He should have stalked her until he could casually run into her at the blood bank.] He will exchange her freedom for the bottle, or a fight, but Hugh knows he'll lose. [Not clear what that sentence means. He will grant her freedom in exchange for the bottle would be clear. No need for the fight.] Time is not on Hugh's side as he comes up with a risky plan to reach the bottle first, and save the woman he loves.  

SOME KIND OF ETERNAL is a 72,000-word paranormal novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


I think I'd leave the blood giving machines intelligence out of the query. You can still say the scientists want the bottle to study the blood's properties instead of bringing up their androids. We're already buying into vampires, gods, and magic ink; let's not go overboard. Besides, our phones are already smarter than we are; we can do without blood that makes our blenders smarter too. I know the vampires and freemasons can just drink the blood, but what about the blender? Do you just pour in the blood and push the CRAM button?

Is the conflict between Hugh and Oliver after they find the bottle? Hugh wants to trade it for Leila and Oliver wants to use it to become a god? Does Oliver need the whole bottle or just a few drops? If it takes a whole bottle, that means only one freemason can become immortal and only one vampire can become a god and only one blender can become self-aware. If a couple drops is enough, everyone can have what they want.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

New Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1334 would like feedback on this revision:

Dear Evil Editor,

Seventeen-year-old Andrea Smith has just witnessed a murder—and her close friends committed it. Her friends decide [decided] to play a prank on a new student at their high school. One of the popular girls in the group pretended to be his girlfriend. He finds [found] out about the prank and a struggle ensued with the girl 

Andrea tried to break up the fight but was unsuccessful. Before she had a chance to tell the truth to the police, they [her friends] beat her to it and lied instead. [Not clear why this would prevent Andrea from telling the police what happened. The police assume some people will lie and some won't.] Andrea becomes [is] devastated. It's like she is the only one that [who] has a conscience. This causes her to distance herself from them [her friends]. If that's not bad enough, they refuse to show any remorse, especially her long-term [time] boyfriend.  Later, Andrea breaks up with him and he becomes insanely jealous when she meets a new guy that [who] shows her the affection that he [her boyfriend] never gave her. [I'd reveal the boyfriend's name so you can use it when he comes up.]

As she cut [cuts] ties further with all of her friends, she [Andrea] develops a close friendship with the dead classmate’s sister. It becomes at risk when Andrea keeps her in the dark about what happened. Andrea doesn't want [, not wanting] to hurt her even more and she tries to figure out a way to tell her the truth but she can't bring herself to do it.

Now, Andrea’s been noticing that someone is stalking her every move when she starts receiving death threats. She began [begins] to wonder [and wonders] if someone is enacting [exacting] revenge against them for the murder. Is it the sister that [,who] found out some kind of way [somehow,] or someone else. [?] She becomes terrified when the stalker [someone] starts harming them [the friends] one by one. Andrea needs to get her life back on track before the sins of the past come back to haunt her. [She needs to tell the authorities what's going on. She can get her life on track later.]

CRUEL SACRIFICES is a 51,000 word YA contemporary novel, with thriller and mystery elements. This is a standalone novel with series potential. Thank you for your time and consideration.



It seems Andrea would suspect someone is out for revenge after the girls get harmed one by one, not after she, who had nothing to do with the "murder," gets death threats.

Not sure why we're referring to the "murderers." You declare that a struggle ensued with the girl, that led to his accidental death. If he confronts her and they start shoving each other and he falls down,  hitting his head on something sharp and dying, they aren't going to charge all the girls with murder. I doubt they could even get the one girl for involuntary manslaughter. 

You start with backstory, which is okay, but you switch from past to present and back. When you get to the actual story (Andrea becomes devastated....) you need to stay in present tense the rest of the way, but you again use both past and present tenses.

Too many character names can be bad, but you name no character except Andrea. The others are her friends/the group/the murderers, her long-time boyfriend, a new student/the new guy/the dead classmate, the dead classmate's sister. One or two more names of key characters wouldn't hurt.

Pronouns should be used only when it's clear which noun they're replacing.